Wednesday, 6 February 2013

A reading party

The best bit about staying in a Landmark is the opportunity it gives to sit and read, without distraction from telephone (mostly), computers and television. Long may the Trust's "No wifi" policy continue, though I fear it's under threat.

As may be gleaned from my photograph, the living area at Astley is upstairs, with floor length windows giving a view across to the parish church. Its origins are as old as the Castle's, but only part of the 14th Century Collegiate remains: it must have been huge! In the now vanished spire, a light was shown after dark, giving Astley - then surrounded by forest - the name of "the Lantern of Arden". We heard all this from one of the churchwardens, who met us inside the - extremely low - West door of St Mary's this morning and gave us the benefit of the knowledge gleaned during his sixty plus years as a parishioner. It transpires that visitors to the Castle included not only Lady Jane Grey, but (more significant, possibly, in the mind of our new friend) Sir Elton John.

An old friend came to lunch with us here: he serves as a priest in a parish within the Coventry conurbation, where he is busy organising a food bank. Walking up towards the transformed Castle, he exclaimed: "This must have cost a lot! What a waste of money!" It's a point of view: after all £2.7m was spent on the restoration. And didn't Rose Macaulay speak of this "perhaps overcastled earth"?

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